School, police officials discuss preventing shootings

Published 8:40 pm Monday, December 17, 2012

A shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Friday that claimed the lives of 26 children and adults has elicited waves of shock and concern powerful enough to make local school officials re-evaluate students’ safety.

Chilton County Schools Superintendent Dave Hayden and Chilton County Sheriff Kevin Davis met Monday morning to review the system’s policies and procedures at every school campus in the county.

Hayden and Davis said they will meet again in the coming weeks to solidify any changes the board of education approves.

Hayden said he expects the board to discuss the issue at its meeting Tuesday, Dec. 18.

“I’ve had a lot of calls and our schools have had calls,” Hayden said Monday. “There’s a lot of concern right now.”

Hayden said school employees are advised to be on alert and more vigilant after what happened in Connecticut on Dec. 14.

Counselors are available to talk to students as needed.

As always, all visitors must go directly to the main office at each school and may be asked to show identification.

Additionally, law enforcement has increased their patrol at schools in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.

“I feel like our schools are safe, and we want to do all that we possibly can to maintain the safety of our students,” Hayden said.

Davis said he has fielded a large number of calls as well and wants to be sure his department maintains a prominent presence at every school.

“Anytime a tragedy like this happens, you want to take that opportunity to see that we’re doing all that we can do to keep that from happening here,” Davis said. “I hope the board looks at the options the sheriff’s department has to offer. We’re offering any services to the board of education; it’s up to them what services they receive.”

Deputy David Hubbard is currently the school system’s only resource officer.

About two years ago, Hubbard began rotating among 13 schools in the county Monday through Friday every week and teaching courses on anti-bullying, anti-drugs, anti-violence and safety.

According to Davis, his department does not have enough funding at this time to place a full-time officer at every school every day.

“I wish I had an armed deputy sheriff at each school in the county,” Davis said. “The money just is not there for us to go and put 15 people on payroll and put them at the schools. I wish we could.”

If extra funding is found, having more officers available for constant school patrol is an option the board could approve to upgrade safety measures, Davis said.

“We will equip and train as many resource officers as we can fund,” he said. “Our job as public servants of this county is to do everything possible to protect our people and protect our citizens. As we saw last week, our most valuable citizens are those kids in those schools that are defenseless in that situation.”

Davis said his department’s primary recommendation to the board is to have at least one armed officer on every school campus and at every event.

“How we accomplish that is still yet to be worked out,” Davis said. “I’m not going to rest until we accomplish that, however we accomplish it. I want that armed barricade between our precious children in the school and these nuts that walk the street and cause these conflicts like we saw last week.”